Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Units. Of measure

2017/11/15

Meters and liters, inches and feet.  Ounces, quarts, gallons.  Kilometers per second.  Light second, light minute, light hour, light year.  Terabyte, barrel, kilowatt, hands, stone, the things we measure have changed along with the way we measure things.  Learning the metric system is only a start, because our immediate neighborhood is only a few light hours across.

Mars averages about 12 light minutes from Earth, while the Earth is only about 8 light minutes from the Sun.  Light travels about 300,000 kilometers per second, so, unlike the Sun, Mars can be anywhere from 3 something light minutes away to about 22 light minutes.  Sometimes, a radio beep would take nearly an hour to go to Jupiter.

On Earth, everything is only a fraction of a light second away, but even the Moon is nearly a light second away.  To get into space, we have to get going about 7 kilometers per second, after we get above most of the atmosphere.  Space is only a about 100 kilometers from wherever you are right now, but the atmosphere gets very thin only a few kilometers up.  And space is big.  Really, really big.

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Getting less for doing more

2017/09/24

Talking with a friend of mine who works in retail I can hear the frustration and anger boiling out of him.  He is being asked to do more than ever before, and he is receiving less and less for doing it.  He loves working with people, selling stuff, but he hates dealing with the corporate demands and managers who don’t know what they are doing.  His store used to have several more workers, but vacancies have not been filled.  His compensation for enduring these problems is shrinking in value, even though the amount is larger.

All of this is so that the shareholders can receive a larger income from doing nothing.  The corporate people don’t want him taking the time to listen to his customers, to find out what they need so that he can help them find it.  He is supposed to sell them the biggest, bestest, most expensive thing he can, regardless of whether they need it.  Making the customer happy is no longer important, only making the shareholders happy is.

The end times are near!

2017/08/24

Just recently, news has been released that Walmart and Google are going to team up against Amazon.com.  Thus, the End of Days approaches.   Seriously, doesn’t Google have better taste than to team up with Walmart? This news came out the day after a solar eclipse that was visible all across the United Sates.  A day when people would drive hundreds of miles (I did) to see the Earth’s moon pass in front of the Sun, completely blocking the Sun’s radiation.

The place where I went to watch the eclipse was deep in the back country, where there is no Google, no Walmart, no Amazon.com, no power even, unless you generate it yourself.  A place where you make money by earning it, not by manipulating numbers, but by doing real work, creating real wealth.

One of the images that was burned into my mind was the hundreds of cars that were pulled off of the road, here and there, with people sitting inside.  They had nothing in common to talk about until the eclipse began.  That would get them out of their cars and talking to each other.  Of course, many would be so busy trying to record the event that they would to be unable to experience the event.

Darkness and light pollution

2017/07/25

Many people are afraid of the dark, and lots of light is considered a crime deterrent.  But lots of light also masks the night sky, taking away part of our heritage, the stars and planets making their way through our sky.  Light pollution is so severe in some places that the only objects visible at night are the moon and, occasionally, Venus, the brightest of the planets.

Some people don’t like to see the stars, because doing so makes them think about where they are, and infinity, and they freak out.  Of course, some people don’t even need the night sky to freak out; a friend told me one time that she didn’t like clear, or fair days, because she was afraid that she would float away.  She didn’t feel that way when it was cloudy, though.

Sometimes, I wish that there would be a massive power failure in my area, so that I, and everyone else in the area, could see what night was like without a lot of artificial light.  As it is, I am fortunate to live in a lightly populated area, with very low population density.  But it is still hard to see the Milky Way anymore, that river of stars stretching across the sky.

Russian interference? Nyet!

2017/05/23

There is now overwhelming evidence that Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016 election had not the Russian government gotten involved.  And there is little question that Donald Trump does not represent the majority of the people.  What should we, the People do?  Vice-President Pence is so deeply in the Russian’s pocket that he had to recuse himself from the investigation, so merely impeaching Trump will not solve the problem.

I am incensed that our government has been corrupted by foreign interference, and I want to see action taken to right this wrong!  Oh, wait a minute…  We need the Russians to be able to get to the space station, don’t we?  We can’t put a person in orbit ourselves, can we?  And here we are talking about sending people to Mars.   No wonder people want to go to Mars, there is no intelligent life here on Earth.

The Russians got a double deal with Trump; not only someone  more pliable than Hillary Clinton, but a person whose personality is likely to destroy the office of the President of the United States.

Debt: Destroying us with money.

2017/03/14

“Money and debt make it possible to influence people without having public executions.” Justin Michael Barnett 2017/03/14

Money has been fundamental to human development. Debt has been an instrument of mass destruction, which is ravaging our society, our entire planet right now. Debt is funny money, money which has not been made yet. However, debt can be recorded in American accounting as an asset, increasing the monetary worth of the lender, even though collection of a certain percentage of debt is impossible. Debt is the American contribution to the world, a slavery made possible by using material things as a basis of our self image.

Americans probably were not the ones who came up with the idea of a company store, where employees can charge food and other goods to an account. The company never paid quite enough to get by on, so most of the employees were in debt to the store. But if they quit, they would have to pay off the company store. American companies went into Nicaragua, bought up most of the countryside, and planted bananas. Then the locals were offered employment with the banana company, (Day-O! Daylight come and me want go home.) or they could starve. Or move.

But that was not the worst. In order to keep consumerism from collapsing due to the American public having spent their savings completely, easy credit was introduced. Debt. This was a creation of the banking industry, the idea that someone would be allowed to purchase something with money that they had not earned yet. The idea of individuals being able to borrow money is exceptionally recent, compared to the immense history of banking. But then, so is the economic model of consumerism, which is the structure of the American economy.

As consumers, we are expected to consume. However, we are not making enough to consume very much, in spite of how cheap everything has gotten. Things are so cheap because they are made from American materials shipped half way round the world, processed into goods by people making a dollar or two a day, and then shipped back to the United States. That is a simplistic generalization to illustrate the insanity which prompted manufacturers to abandon a labor market which demanded health care benefits, retirement benefits, and vacation time. Calculating the worth of products in money makes it seem worthwhile to ship materials to China to get finished goods back. There is no monetary way of calculating the value of jobs, health care, extended families, and happiness.

Those are some of the things that we have lost because of money and materialism. We should also include the environment, courtesy, patience, and sharing. Money allows us to live outside of the community, not dependent on group resources to survive. Debt shackles us to the past, destroying our future.

Keeping the sky from falling

2017/03/06

Most people seem to have little interest in space.  They perhaps believe that nothing that goes on off-planet will affect them.  Yet, it has been shown that rocks falling on Earth can affect us.  Most recently, a city in Russia, Chelyabinsk Oblast, was nearly hit by a meteor large enough to destroy a building, and the shock waves damaged hundreds of buildings.  There are geological remains of impact craters kilometers across, and photographs of the results of a meteor blast which leveled trees for kilometers around.

Detecting these rocks from here on Earth can be very difficult, because they are dark and do not reflect very much light.  Also, some of them spend most of their time between the Earth and the Sun, so they are nearly impossible to see.  Back in the early 1990’s, a rock over a kilometer across passed between the Earth and  the Moon, and no one knew it was there until it was between the Earth and the Moon.  A rock that size would destroy an entire region, and could potentially cause extreme weather which would make life on Earth very difficult.  An impact of a similar size 65 million years ago is almost certainly what ended the long reign of the dinosaurs.

From outer space, rocks are much easier to detect, because they reflect some of the thermal energy of the Sun.  A satellite close to the orbit of Venus would be able to detect any large rocks with orbits near the Earth’s, and could also detect any intruders from the outer Solar System.  A few hundred million dollars for such a satellite does not seem too expensive to insure that we do not get blind-sided by a big rock.

 

Are community and society evil?

2017/03/06

There is a lot of talk about how ‘socialist’ the Affordable Care Act is.  To me, socialism is society at work, the caring for of the individual by the group.  If we ditch society, what have we left?  The individual?  Individuals die, leaving behind nothing except what they have created that is of value to the group.  Society, the group, may survive, but the individual will not.  The group, the community, is what our effort should benefit, because if we make things better for everyone, they will get better for us, too.  But ‘community’ is very close to ‘communism’ in some people’s dictionary, and communism is the mortal enemy of capitalism.  Except in China, apparently.  Any talk of ‘sharing the wealth’ brings out rabid, growling conservatives, bound and determined to protect everything that they have acquired.

For too long have humans been able to survive as individuals, without the aid of the community.  Being a member of a group, a community, was essential for survival for most of human evolution.  Being a member of community is also the only way that what we have accomplished, what we have learned, will be passed on, remembered, used.  But wealth has made it so that some can believe that they are above the community, that they do not have to contribute to the welfare of the group.   To these people, society is an enemy, an adversary.  They view individuals as faceless drones, of no value beyond their ability to work and to consume.  They are comfortable exploiting these workers because they are not part of the same community.

We can now look back at our home from outside, from the orbit of the Moon, for instance.  What we see is a single planet, which we all share.  No longer can we pretend that we are separate from any others.  We are all in this together.

 

Afraid of what we need

2017/03/06

People are expecting many changes in the near future, some are hopeful, some are fearful, and many are hoping that things will go back to the way that they were.  Trying to stop change is fruitless, because change is inevitable, and perpetual.  We can deflect it sometimes, channel it in ways that are beneficial, or slow the change down, so that we can cope with it more easily, but stopping change is impossible.

We must learn to ride the change, as a surfer rides the wave, or a kayaker rides the current.  We can draw power from change, when we direct the change in ways that benefit us.  We are constantly presented with decisions that will allow change, or deny it.  When we repeatedly deny change, our choices dwindle, until we are left with none.  The change will happen without our input, our guidance.  Knowing what is important is critical to guiding change, because we must look ahead and see what is coming.  Without a sense of where we want to go, of what we need, we are lost when suddenly confronted with a choice.

Often, people complain that they are detoured away from their objectives, diverted from their chosen path.  We must understand the difference between plans and goals.  You can plan how to reach a goal, and sacrifice everything trying to do so, or, you can keep your goals while navigating the convoluted, winding path that appears before you.  By holding on to a goal, we have guidance in our riding the flow of change.

A new gender type

2017/03/01

Perhaps it is time to admit a new gender to the human race, ‘womyn’, the male version of women. Because some men are behaving as though there was no difference in the sexes. They are masculine without being macho; empathetic, sensitive, nurturing, resilient, compassionate, and many other traits that have been traditionally considered feminine. This is essential, because it is the male of the species who must change, not the female, if true equality of the sexes is to occur. Of course, as men change, so will women. But the changes in society that must occur involve men being able to act more feminine, not women becoming more manly.

Even big, hunky men can behave as gently and compassionately as a women would, and they naturally would, except for programming from their society that such behavior is unmanly. In repressing women, men have repressed themselves, denying themselves the outlet of emotion, the renewing effects of nurturing, the vulnerability of displaying affection for another. By admitting that men can behave in feminine ways, we admit to a blurring of the lines between male and female. Our society insists on maintaining very definite roles for men and women, That must change, we must recognize that gender and social roles are not set in stone.